on 12 November 2012
- beautifully realised colonial America
- smooth freerunning
- satisfyingly vicious combat
- improved hiding mechanic
- patchy control mapping
- unclear freerunning signposts
- awkward combat mapping
- boring protagonist
- contrived plot
- tutorial lasts 3-5 hours - way too long
Let's start with the great things about this game. If you want to stop reading after that, then you haven't got to wade through the numerous negatives to get here.
Improvements are pretty practical, and very welcome. The ability to crouch in long grass/bushes is long overdue, as is the ability to hover at the edge of a wall/surface for a kind of 3rd-person tactical view. Your assassin can also whistle whilst in hiding to distract guards away from key locations, and in general it all feels a bit more tactical than before.
Pre-Independence America is also absolutely gorgeous; wide sunlit roads in Boston, fields of grass glowing in the sunset, the vast, snow-filled frontier. This game looks amazing. Fling yourself from tree to tree (if you're like me, you're singing Monty Python's lumberjack song right now), branch to branch, cliff to cliff, in the most organic freerunning mechanic yet. It's also huge - a big sandbox playground to practice your parkour to your heart's content.
Combat is also satisfyingly visceral and punchy, though not without its flaws. We'll get to those later. In general, when it works, combat is a lot of fun and allows Connor to flow from one enemy to the next as a killing machine. Badassery, pure and simple. And a lot of fun.
The thing about the Assassin's Creed games though, is that each game's link to the Creed itself (essentially boils down to: stop the evil templars) gets more and more tenuous.
Altair was born and raised to be an assassin at a time when assassins worked openly (Crusade-era Jerusalem). His whole life is dedicated to the Creed and to fighting the Templar / Crusader threat. Having him as an assassin makes a lot of sense. He's also an unapologetic badass, which makes him awfully appealing as a protagonist.
Ezio....happens to be a very athletic young man who becomes an assassin almost by accident, following the deaths of some of his family members. It can still make sense though, given that the Ezio storyline in AC2, Brotherhood and Revelations focus on Ezio being surrounded by this fraternity of assassins who first guide him, and then allow themselves to be led by him as he matures to Master Assassin. He's also the right balance between charming and driven - again making him a pleasure to play.
Connor....makes no sense. He's withdrawn, his voice-actor doesn't seem to understand what "inflection" means, and whilst it's an absolute delight to hear the Iroquois languages (re: Native American) spoken with remarkable fluency, Connor is ultimately really, really boring. I understand that the devs wanted him to not take sides in the Revolution but instead look to his own interests, that's fine, but he has nothing interesting to say, no hook for the player.
And that is where AC3 really falls down. As you go through the AC series, the storyline also gets more and more ridiculous. I'm perfectly willing to buy into the idea of a parallel fight in the past (Desmond in the Animus) and the present (Assassin's Order trying to prevent global destruction caused by a Templar satellite launch) - hell, it's not the most ludicrous storyline out there and frankly I find it all part of the fun of playing the AC series.
But the real strength of AC comes from its ancestor storylines - Altair's story, Ezio's story, within the wider framework of Assassins vs Templars. AC3 doesn't have that balance because it doesn't have a protagonist that generates emotional investment. Connor is completely 2-dimensional, emotionally flat and generally uninspired. The conflict built into his nature feels forced - a contrivance necessary to carry the plot. And there is a LOT of plot.
That isn't always a bad thing, but in the presumed effort to make this game as accessible to new fans as to existing ones, the "hand-holding" phase is a good 3 to 4 hours long. Compared to AC2, where a half hour in you're climbing buildings and synchronising viewpoints, this feels overly long and again, a contrivance to set the amount of plot exposition necessary to justify Connor's role in all this, given that he's not sufficiently interesting on his own.
The game's mechanics and control mapping have also been completely overhauled. Generous reviews paint the new combat controls as similar to Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Asylum / Arkham City. This just isn't true - but would be awesome if it was. The only similarity between the two is that both now use the ABXY buttons, but that's it. Batman's controls are far more streamlined and allow a much more consistent combat flow, moving seamlessly from one enemy to the next. AC3 is fiddly, awkward and takes a lot of getting used to. Not to overuse the adage "if it ain't broke....", but this supposed innovation feels like a step backwards from (in particular) AC:Brotherhood and Revelations, both of whom had excellent combat mapping and freerunning techniques. The game and the player also have to adapt to guns - and combat isn't all bad in AC3. The ability to use enemies as meat shields is hugely entertaining and a great device, but difficult to pull off consistently. When it is successful, there's no feeling like it - if only it wasn't so inconsistent.
Freerunning also sees a few modifications - it's now possible to simply run forwards and let the game almost "pick out" the best route - this holds up well in cities, but out on the frontier, trusting the game to pick the route is flawed and often results in falls, deaths and enormous frustrations. Trees are climbable - but not all trees and the game often doesn't make it clear which are and aren't. Same with the cliffs - areas that look completely climbable turn out not to be. It feels arbitrary. That said, the freerunning is generally intuitive and certainly a hell of a lot of fun when Connor gets into his flow, bounding from branch to branch with beautiful-looking animations. All in all though, comparing it even to AC2 (the least intuitive climbing system of the 3 Ezio games), AC3 doesn't hold a candle to previous titles.
The naval battles are also a lot of fun - certainly better than the dubious, immersion-breaking "den defense" from AC:Revelations.
But it's the messy, frustrating, slow development, patchy combat mechanics and a protagonist almost as boring as the modern-day Desmond Miles that let this title down badly. The only gripe I have with the graphics (and I had the same one with Revelations) is that none of the peripheral characters - Desmond, Rebecca and Shaun - look ANYTHING like their previous iterations. And we know it's possible - Mass Effect in particular is an excellent example of how you can have improved graphical output without sacrificing familiar faces.
All in all, the game tries to be stellar but ends up being a mish-mash of beautiful graphics let down by poor implementation. Pre-Declaration America is simply gorgeous - from the deer bounding through the woods as Connor leaps through the trees, to wide-paved cities and easily recognisable famous buildings and figures of Independence-Era America.
I still recommend the title, but given its AAA status, it's not worth the full price you'd pay on launch day.
on 28 August 2013
Being an avid Assassins Creed fan, I have played all of the games to date. I held off buying this game at first as its reviews were'nt exactly perfect, and after a few hours of playing I soon saw why.
The story is a new one, not a carry on from the previous adventures of Ezio. Which to me, was actually a relief, as I thought the story was beginning to feel a little exhausted and forced. For the majority of the story you will play as an Indian Character named Connor, here you will start off climbing trees and playing hide and seek as a little boy, right up to the adult age of tearing apart hordes of enemiens that we know and love. There are a quite a few twists and turns in this game which I won't spoil for you. I actually enjoyed most of the story, I really began to connect with Connor. But aside from your own personal desires, you begin to lose sight of what is going on around you, and the campaing begins to feel very forced and robotic. It's gripping enough for you to see the end of the game, and even for longer, but it's far from memorable, and the ending is incredibly dissatisfying.
The graphics in this game are beautiful, they are the best yet; as expected. The environments, whether it be the city of New York, or the woodlands of your homestead, it looks great, and they have really worked on the close-ups and charcters in this addition to the franchise. My main criticism in this game would firstly be the weather; rain and snow have been introduced into this game, alot, and although refreshing to see a change, it makes gameplay almost unbareable and just becomes an annoyance. And secondly, the glitching. I haven't played a game in years to have been as glitchy as this, whether is be arrows not firing, horses stuttering randomly, finding myself stuck to a wall, it happened way too often, and often enough for me to actually turn off the game a few times.
The gameplay, if you have played any of the other installments in the series doesn't really have to be explained. Aside from a few new additions of boat missions (which were actually some of the best parts of the game) and completing homestead missions in order to build your own town in the countryside. And also the ability to platform across trees and other woodland environments was a nice addition.
Overall, I did enjoy this game, it was very slow to start, and the end was dissapointing, but it was a fresh of breath of fresh air from the usual installements. But aside from a few new things, you won't be seeing much more than you have from the other games. 4/4
on 30 December 2012
Having previously played and loved the other games in the series, I looked forward to this as a shift from the norm but still keeping what made the others great...and it does this...eventually.
The main issue this game has is the horribly long hand holding tutorials. For anyone who's played the series before, having to play for almost 5 hours before they take off the stabilisers is incredibly tedious and I very nearly gave up as I was quite bored.
However once it lets go, the story comes to life, the action increases and the game becomes a quality entry that is well worth playing. Just keep with it!
on 9 January 2014
First of all I would like to state that I am a huge assassins creed fan. ( AC2 and ACB are two of my favourite video games of all time) Let me also mention that this is not a terrible game.
When I first saw the advert for AC3 it go me jumping up with excitement and I simply could not wait to play it. My hopes were quite high considering the fairly disappointing ACR.
When I ultimately did however I felt it was quite slow to start off with, but I thought that would improve with time, it did in someways but not in others. The positives I liked in this game were such improvements such as the graphics, some of the scenery was absolutely breathtaking, especially the open frontier. The story was good if not perhaps a little too annoyingly patriotic and dull in some places but still good and was a good long length. I really liked the idea of playing a Native American warrior type assassin and the naval contracts were ingenious.
However this was still a disappointing game mainly because the protagonist (Connor) is a completely dull and naive character to play. This was a huge step down from the extremely charming and charismatic Ezio the master assassin, or the driven ( if slightly too serious ) Altair. Connor should have been an incredibly empathetic character considering his back-story but instead came across incredibly naive as I said before, at first Connor's naivety made sense considering he hadn't seen the tough and strange streets of populated modern cities of America, however as the years passed I felt he was still gullible and could never quite piece things together, like he always had to go to someone for help and then go kill someone and repeat.At least the disappointing Assassins creed revelations had the strong and interesting character of Ezio to keep it interesting. Connor never really felt like a true assassin or that he really understood or respected the order of the assassins, just a skilled killing machine.
As other people have felt, Haytham was far more of an interesting character despite his faults in moralistic choices.This also more of a game about the american revolution with a hint of assassin creed rather than it being an even level.
Gameplay was also positive and negative, I liked certain amount of the free running mechanics such as climbing trees, and certain new moves of the seamless fighting were good also. However, maybe it's just me but there were some things about the fighting mechanics I didn't like, such as it seemed like you had to stab an enemy 10 times to finally kill them which felt extremely unrealistic, unlike the flawless fighting mechanics in previous AC games.
Certain side missions I enjoyed such as the homestead missions, I thought they were simple yet very satisfying and there were so many of them they seemed almost endless. The naval contracts were the only real thing that took my breath away as I thought this was quite a big game changer compared to other games.
In conclusion this is still a satisfying game that is definitely worth getting , but it did in no way compare to the brilliant storytelling, character, or magical feel as previous Assassins creed games.
on 24 March 2013
I have read very many negative reviews about this game and it is safe to say I am inclined to agree with them. The setting itself is of lovely quality, Ubisoft have created a believable, intriguing world with great attention to every last detail. It has been very ambitious in creating vast open spaces which change as the story progresses. The first major issue with the game is that the characters are not very memorable, in comparison to Ezio, Da Vinci et al of the previous games. There are many, many tedious missions at the beginning of the game which drag on and on until you can finally play the great outdoors as Connor. The main issue I had with this game was the sheer amount of technical issues which can be of hindrance more than too often whilst playing missions. Expect to see people and houses appearing and disappearing all too often, expect the character to clip through walls; this causes some major issues with missions which focus on flexible verticality as the character will often plummet to his death because he has clipped through the wall and it has become confused. One of the first missions involves carrying a chest, half of the time the characters are carrying thin air, but once they put the air on the ground the crate will reappear. The game is very good in terms of its wide open, immersive atmosphere. If you have the patience to get past the frustrating beginnings then it is a great game. It is to the Assassins Creed series, and in fact to gaming, what the University of Cumbria is to academia.
on 28 January 2013
It is easy to be blind to the faults of the game and in an odd way it's easy to pick fault with them, especially when so many of them appear together. As I played the game I've rating it from 10/10 to 1/10 and all numbers in between at various points in game play. I've settled on 8/10 as at the heart of it, there is a pretty good game in there, somewhere.
The graphics are great. Pre-independence Boston, New York and the Frontier are amazing especially with the addition of seasons and weather. The voice sync varies enormously from excellent to poor to delayed by a few seconds. Some NPCs are glitchy. Some fall off ledges or piers when you attack thereby relieving you of having to kill them. The notoriety is also glitchy. I've been `incognito' occasionally, walking down a road and suddenly the guards are after me. In one or two memories where the character Connor was at maximum notoriety, the memory ended and puts him back on the streets with guards around but there was a delay with the game putting his notoriety back to normal. There are requirements for full-sync which seem to be slightly more convoluted than previous iterations. Again there was sometimes a delay displaying the requirements, only to having failed them seconds into the memory.
There are feathers to collect in the Frontier. Almanac pages are collected in Boston and New York. These blow away when you approach, so you have to run to catch them. Collecting volumes unlock recipes in your Homestead to make products to sell. By unlocking quests in your homestead (by helping people and encouraging them to move to your little village) people can make the recipes. The stories were very engaging.
This generates in-game currency. There are chests to unlock as well. These have money and sometimes recipes. There are also Trinkets. Every four or so unlocks a naval mission for treasure.
Naval missions are a good addition to the game. Each side mission reduces the risk of your trade going missing. Money is required to upgrade the ship, and it is well worth it.
Killing wild animals generates products to sell but apart from a few items, it generally isn't worth crafting anything. Buying bear or beaver pelts from your villagers and reselling them on trade routes is more than sufficient to get enough cash for ship upgrades or weapons leave this overly elaborate system largely useless.
The Assassin missions have been changed from previous titles. Each area of the cities will have tasks and once they're complete, the leader in that area will organise a revolt to seize control from the Templars. These leaders, six in all, become your junior assassins for you to train to the rank of Assassin. The menu system has been revised and now your trainees can't die and you can organise their tasks at almost any point in the game through the menu. This also brings in a bit of money. It's an improvement. Your assassin's can also now be used to escort, assassinate, create diversion or act as body guard. Again, a considerable and useful improvement.
The fighting system is better and allows you to take on larger numbers as well as be able to run away. The menu system is much improved as well but it takes a while to work that out. Made more complicated by the 5 or 6 sequences of what felt like training sessions that very slowly introduce certain weapons or features (some wrongly) as well as a change from the Haythem to Connor characters. This should take 3-5 hours but it may be as much as ten hours if you've wandered off to complete the side missions during this time.
There are British held forts scattered about the perimeter. There is a unique way to get into each one. There will be a captain to kill and a powder keg to blow before lowering their flat. Again, an improvement on previous versions.
The free-running is more restricted this time. There are specific ways to climb things. I worked out that sometimes it was that way because there was part of sequence based in that area later in the game and these restrictions were necessary for the full-sync objectives.
Whilst the word `assassin' appears in title, there's very little assassinating that you get to. Lots of running to other side of the map to talk to someone, then back across the map to see something else, disrupt cargo, kill a cougar, investigate a strange story or anything else apart from assassinating people. And that's frustrating! So much time is wasted in this game through endless cutscenes. By sequence 6 I'd had enough and started skipping some of them. Then even more frustration as you have to press B to skip and then hold B to properly skip the cutscene. Really? Twice?
The game seems unedited and feels like a beta release. There's just so much messing about in the game that any respectable and competent project manager overseeing this project (which has been two years in the making) would have made some tough decisions and simply cut a lot of it out. It took some 40 hours to complete all side quests up to sequence 13. I'm not bothering with getting full-sync, something I wish they would take away from the game and allow players to complete the objective how they feel. Something I feel lets down the game.
on 14 November 2014
Simply awful. The game seems to collect all the annoying and irritating attributes of all the previous games, and somehow makes them worse. The controls alone are enough to make you want to smash the controller, they're too complicated, clumsy to work, and most of the time connor doesn't react at all during fight sequences, or does whatever he wants, resulting in all fights being an infuriating and desperate gamble. The glitches are terrible, most deaths are seen on screen with the two characters several inches apart on the screen, whole backgrounds disappear in cut scenes (which there are hundreds of, this is supposed to be a game not a film!) and the timing is badly out of sync. Some of the viewpoints are in trees in this game, but good luck climbing to the top as you will have no choice but to gamble which is the right route to the top and jump to your death several times to do each one. If you think it's worth the effort. Which it isn't, because the map doesn't improve all that much. The storyline is boring, and seems incoherent. They're aren't any interesting side missions either, so you are stuck with a very linear follow the storyline game that annoys the hell out of you. Only worth considering if you are desperate to continue the AC series, which in my opinion should have stopped before this drivel.
on 9 March 2013
While Assassin's Creed may have improved it's combat system (not that I felt like it needed fixed, but hey, all in the name of progress, right?) there are many areas which have fallen from its predecessors. For example, stealth. Before, you had the ability to hide in moving crowds, in AC 3, the ability is taken away and instead gives you the ability to hide in bushes. Bushes! For a stealth game, the stealth mechanics could be a whole lot better. The game is non-fluent. When it works, it works beautifully, but the majority of times, running from place to place, hiding in sight, assassinating feels broken. There are too many bugs and too many annoyances which stops it from being perfect.
Enter Connor. An assassin. He may be dull, but his cause is noble. I enjoyed playing as a Native. I really wanted to fight for his cause in this game, more so, than I did in the others. Connor isn't the only thing that's dull in the game, the missions become very repetitive. With that said, I really enjoy the missions (spoiler) you have with his father. Those were really enjoyable!
AC 3 environment is beautiful! The world takes you in right away. If you've played AC before, you know what you're getting. Spoilers, the ending to Desmond's story is very weak.
on 11 September 2013
Ok, so this will be a rubbish review - for that i apologise, but for me, I just dont know what to make of this game.
So, I am a massive AC fan, ever since the first installment, I have played them all. Getting my hands on this game, I couldnt wait to get into it.
I dont want to provide spoilers, but i felt you had to play about 10hrs of gaming before this actually got interesting. Then it became slightly disjointed and at times I loved it, and then i would tire of it.
The gameplay seems slightly different, and where the story intertwinned with the 'free play' elements before, in this game, you could essentially navigate the two independently. Therefore, the game just didnt seem to mesh together, and you never really got to understand the role of the characters.
There are elements that are fantastic fun, like the naval quests (and this is obviously was the tester for Black Flag).
However, for me, it just moved away too much from the previous versions which failed to retain the essence of the previous ones
To sum it up, Im not sure about this installment. If you are a fan, wait for the price drop and then play.
on 17 November 2014
I'm a big fan of the Assassin's Creed series but was very disappointed with this particular release. I'm currently re-playing it to see if it was really as bad as I remember. It turns out that it's much worse than I remember.
It feels as if the creators took all the really cool elements from the previous games, ditched them and instead took all the annoying elements and made them even worse.
In terms of plot, it's an interesting, if contrived, entry in the saga. The problem is that it takes several light years to get going.
The gameplay is utterly awful - particularly when it comes to combat. I kept finding myself screaming "I'm pushing the f***ing button!" while the character stands still, calmly taking axe blows to the face. And the lockpicking....dear lord, the lockpicking! You're given simple instructions which you follow but then the character randomly decides he can't be bothered and just wants to squat instead - all the while some infuriating group of street urchins with tourettes repeatedly shout "whoa! whoa! whoa!" Not giving the option to kebab them with your hidden blade is one of the biggest downfalls of the game.
And the naval missions! Oh my God! Nice idea but not much fun if you're unable to see in front of you. It feels like some kind of pirate-related Specsavers advert.
The whole thing is a big glitchy, clumsy mess that is frequently beyond frustrating. Fortunately the follow-up, Black Flag, took all the bad bits from AC3 and managed, somehow, to make them really enjoyable elements in a vastly superior game.
I don't feel that I can give this 1 star - after all, a huge amount of work has clearly gone into it, it's a BIG game. However, I want to kill everyone around me after I play it and that can't be healthy.